Saint Bridget of Sweden: Co-Patroness of Europe

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On 23 July, the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Bridget of Sweden. Her poor and penitent life, following her state as a princess, drew the mockery of the world.

Newsdesk (23/07/2021 22:15, Gaudium Press) St. Bridget was born in Sweden around 1303. Born of a noble family, at a young age she married Ulf Gudmarson, the Governor of Ostugtland, and together they had eight children.

Her husband had a difficult temperament, which proved very trying for her. She too was an irritable person, and in her relations with her husband she was forced to master her own temperament. In the end, she was able to overcome her unpleasant and harsh temper.

St. Bridget’s reputation and piety led the king to request her to be a Lady of the Court to his wife, the White Queen of Namur, that she might properly instruct her. However, court life was not what Bridget desired, and she soon retired.

Together with her husband, Bridget joined the Third Order of St. Francis and undertook many charitable works, including pilgrimages to various sanctuaries in Europe, Santiago de Compostela being one of them.

On one of these journeys Ulf fell seriously ill, but made a recovery through his wife’s prayers. Sometime later, Ulf decided to enter the Cistercian Monastery of Alvastre, where he died in 1344.

After her husband’s death, St. Bridget divided her possessions among her children and the local poor, then devoted herself entirely to penance and the contemplation of the Passion of Jesus.

Her poor and penitent life, following her state as a princess, drew upon her the mockery of the world, to which she replied, “It was not for your sake that I began; it will not be for your sake that I shall end. I have resolved in my heart to bear the words. Pray that I may persevere”.

In 1349, wishing to take part in the Jubilee festivities of 1350, she went to Rome where she stayed, hoping to obtain from the Pope the approval of the rules of the Religious Order of the Most Holy Saviour, which she wished to found.

Throughout her life, especially during this period, she was graced with various mystical revelations, above all concerning the Passion of Jesus, the life of the Blessed Virgin, and the gift of prophecy. Those who did not understand her mystical life caused her great suffering.

In 1371 she undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Returning to Rome, by then quite weakened, she gave her soul to God on July 23, 1373, at the age of seventy-one.

She was buried in the church of San Lorenzo in Panis-Perna, which belonged to the Poor Clares. The following year her children, Prince Birger and Saint Catherine, asked for her remains to be transported to the monastery of Watstein in Sweden.

Two decades later, in 1391, she was canonized by Pope Boniface IX and, in 1999, proclaimed Co-Patroness of Europe by Pope John Paul II.

Though this the holy widow suffered much on account of men, God consoled her superabundantly with supernatural revelations and communications. Let us ask Saint Bridget for calmness, security, and certainty that everything can be solved and explained, even at those moments when everything seems unsolvable and inexplicable.

Text taken, with adaptations, from arautos.org.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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